In an interview, the great Julio Cortázar recommended to those who want to become writers, not to rush when publishing a book because they could regret it in the future. It’s just that the text has misteries that sometimes we cannot decode. What one writes in a certain moment can easily seem to be of high quality, ready to be sent to the printing house right away; however, as days, months, years pass by, the same text that was once fabulous is now shameful. How did this happen? The answer is simple: the manuscript got old, we got old, and its true calibre reflected, I mean, it didn’t resist the inclemency of time, of constant changes, of our own evolution. We shall recognize our error and keep on moving, making sure we have learnt the lesson: the text needs time to evolve, to ferment like a good wine, and be enjoyed in a full moon night or total eclipse. Unless one has a vast experience writing fiction or another genre, the text needs to be read and reviewed by a different person than the author (sometimes more than one); it needs to be corrected aaccording to the rules of language like ortography. From this we can deduce the existence of proofreaders, that are specialized professionals and their purpose is to edit the text, leave it ready to be published.
Then, how do we know when a text is ready to be published? If one is a genius like Arthur Rimbaud, and wrote his/her major work before nineteen, there’s nothing to worry about. But If we haven’t recovered from childhood at will yet, let’s be cautious and wait, because a book has a life of its own and only he knows when he is to come to this world to beautify it. So, how long should we wait? From my personal experience, I can say that one of my latest books was written and corrected along ten years. Planeta Délfico y otros cuentos (Delphic planet and other stories) compiles texts that date from 2007. My poetry book Enlightenment of Derangement waited seven years to see the light. Another poetry book El Ángulo Abierto de la Noche (The open angle of the night) waited five years to be published; of course it’s not a rigid rule, five, ten, twenty years; each one walks and moves to his rhythm, but it does take long to publish a book.
It is essential to build the habit of writing and have several unpublished texts in case we want to send them to a contest or a magazine. Many times I have encountered the dilemma of waiting the results of a contest to know what to do with my manuscript, because in a contest rules they usually say that the text shouldn’t have been published in any platform. But let’s look at this with a bright heart, let’s find the opportunity for the text to reach its true nature. It is importante to determine goals and schedules of writing, and have plenty of material in case a calling, a residency for writers and other kinds of opportunities appear. Thus, many would critize Mario Vargas Llosa for having made writing a “profession like any other”, because he is very disciplined and methodical and certain people believe that when it comes to writing, it’s all about inspiration “once in a while”. I don’t think that “writing when inspiration comes” is suitable if you want to stand out. I don’t think we are writing machines either. I believe we all have the right to discover our own personal way of being in Literature, if this is our true vocation.
I hope you found this letter enriching, and I’ll be looking forward to know your comments. What other things do you think we should consider before publishing a book? I’ll be so glad to read about your thoughts on this matter. I wish you a nice day.